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Posts Tagged ‘#humancondition’

Ash Wednesday … a day on the calendar that has had little meaning to me, a day I knew little about.

I guess I think of it as a Catholic day, or one practised by more mainline churches (those older, established denominations, which are protestant but who hold closely to the church calendar, rituals and traditions). It is a day of the burning of Easter palms to ashes and the sign of the cross, applied to the forehead of church-goers.

But … why?

“For you were made from dust,
and to dust you will return.”

Genesis 3:19

Dust to dust … ashes to ashes

mortality.

We are reminded today, by the ashes, that we are mortal, we are subject to death. Like the palm leaves, green and full of life, we eventually fade, dry up and blow into the wind. This mortality, earned through our human DNA, damaged in the choices in the Garden of Eden, by the choices we make each and every day.

But, we are also reminded today, by the shape of the cross drawn with the ashes, that, though our bodies are mortal, fragile, our eternity is in the hands of our redeemer. It is through the gift of his sacrifice that God sees not our sin, but sees us as his.

Today we consider our human condition.

Today we look at what has been done on our behalf.

Today is an opportunity turn from our human nature, to turn from that which separates us from God, toward a daily life of closeness with him and to live with redemption in our souls.

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I am a Christian, a Christ-follower, a disciple of Jesus, a child of the King of Creation … but …

I am not the one to follow

Though I have never killed anyone, I have the capacity to destroy another … with my actions, my words. I am human, in every good, bad and ugly way.

I have blown my top, been insensitive, laughed at jokes that I shouldn’t have, spoken of someone rudely in their absence, practised pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth … and these are just the things I am willing to admit publicly!

I have disappointed my share of people, from strangers to ones I say I love. I have broken hearts, been deceptive and vile, embarrassed myself and those I care about. I have misrepresented Christ …

so. many. times.

That is why you should not follow me on a good day … because I am far too fallible to follow.

I will disappoint you … because I have done that to others.

I will seem to be a hypocrite … because I done that too.

So if, on a good day, you think, wow! Now she is a good person, woman, Christian to follow …

DON’T DO IT!

Don’t follow me! For I am so lost too.

Often we hear of someone who has claimed the name of Christ(ian) but has lived a life that would seem to be contrary to what they say, how Jesus lived, what the Bible teaches. Or they might be quick to speak the name of Christ in public, while their private (real) life would indicate a den of lies. Or, perhaps they are a public or religious leader whose human sinning in the dark has had light shone on it, proving them to be a hypocrite.

We have all heard of such imposters. We have all heard, or said, in response, how could they? They should have known better. They are phoney, deceitful, hypocrites.

Such falls from grace can leave people running away from them, but also away from God.

I know that my heart, and soul, and intent, and tongue, and habits, and tendencies are so naturally sinful, ill-intended and imperfect. So we have to be careful when condemning they for …

there but for the grace of God go I.

Let me suggest who to follow?

All the nasty, disillusioning, mean-spirited, hypocritical, black-as-sin characteristics that are part of who I am … are as if they never happened … in the eyes of the God who I follow.

He has redeemed me, made me whole, clean. God sees me only through the sacrifice of his Son over me. My sin was absorbed in this sacrifice, granting me the availability of grace, mercy and forgiveness. Not because I deserve it, but because that was His gift of hope to us.

” … we have an advocate before the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He Himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
1 John 1-2

I desire to love my God, to imitate His life, to live my life as his follower, but I am frail, weak and so easily swayed.

I am not the one to follow

for I am lost too.

But I know who to follow!

“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.”
Romans 12:3

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At every Remembrance Day service in Canada is sung a most hauntingly sad and hopeful song.

 J.R. Watson, who compiled hymns in a number of anthologies, said of the hymn, O God our Help, “this is one of Watts’s greatest hymns on the human condition, setting the shortness of life and the littleness of human beings against the timeless greatness of God…. who has been our help [in the past] and hope [in the future].”

It is a good hymn to sing now … in this time of Coronavirus.

It was written by Isaac Watts, over three hundred years ago! Not only did it have staying power, but it’s message is one of staying power as well.

O God, our help in ages past,
  Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
  And our eternal home.

Home may be beginning to feel a rather eternal location for many these days, but it is our shelter as well, both for us and for those who need us to stay home … for their good.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
  Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
  And our defence is sure.

The shadow present today is not different than in Watt’s lifetime, nor in Moses’, the one who wrote Psalm 90 … the Psalm that this hymn was written after. Psalm 90 was written as a prayer to be prayed daily.

Before the hills in order stood,
  Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
  To endless years the same.

That verse, above, to me is the heart of this song. Near the middle, bringing our attention to the heart of the matter … that, though things can change, ever so much, in our lives, there is a constant, who never changes … the everlasting God.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
  Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
  Before the rising sun.

How fragile and short is life. Our mortality ever whispering to us. Yet, there is One who has always been, who knows eternity.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
  Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
  Dies at the opening day.

More mortality. This verse almost reckons our memories to the meaninglessness of Ecclesiastes’ numerous a time to statements. Really it is just the reminder of the fragility of time, of our time. Our days are not to be wasted.

O God, our help in ages past,
  Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while life shall last,
  And our eternal home.

We come to the end, which is a prompt for us as we look at the remainder of our days. The past, how God has been faithful to us, is our hope for the days to come, be it here on Earth, or in eternity.

“The timeless greatness of God…. who has been our help [in the past] and hope [in the future].” (Watson)

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